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Potential measures to muffle pickleball sound in North Saanich include acoustic panels

Public hears that district made a mistake in choosing current court location in Deep Cove
North Saanich council has asked staff to look into mitigating the sounds coming from the municipality’s public pickleball courts. This move could see addition of acoustical panels, fencing, earth berms or a combination thereof. (Black Press Media file photo)

North Saanich council wants district staff to look into mitigating noise from public pickleball courts.

A staff report on future options for solving conflicts between players enjoying an increasingly popular sport with obvious health benefits, and residents concerned about noise, was discussed at council’s Monday meeting (Nov. 15). Council members acknowledged the municipality made a mistake choosing the current location for the four courts on Wain Road in Deep Cove, while raising the prospect of moving them.

Perhaps the most direct mea culpa came from Mayor Geoff Orr.

“All of us could agree that we could have done things differently,” he said, noting the focus now falls on finding the best possible solution.

Council unanimously voted to ask staff to explore noise mitigation options, some of which could include the installation of acoustic panels, fencing, earth berms or some combination thereof.

Multiple elements around pickleball play have created conflict, from the proximity of the courts to homes, the high-pitched, far-reaching noise generated when paddles and balls connect, and the admitted inability of the municipality to enforce operating hours for the courts. They are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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The staff report presented two other broad options for council’s consideration: removal and/or relocation of the courts; limit playing times or enforce current hours in collaboration with neighbours. Enforcement mechanisms could include a booking system, reduced playing days and hours and the use of timed locks or third-party monitors.

During discussions, Coun. Celia Stock raised the possibility of moving the courts to a site near Parkland Secondary School, currently home to what she believes are abandoned tennis courts. “I don’t know if that is another avenue for investigation,” she said.

Orr also did not rule out moving the courts, but struck a more pessimistic note about the availability of an alternative location suitable for the sport. Ultimately, he warned of additional costs around sound mitigation and high expectations.

“I don’t think it (sound mitigation) will be simple and I don’t know that we will know how effective it will be,” he said. “At the same time, we need to consider these other things that have been mentioned in the report.”

He also tried to build a bridge between the respective camps by acknowledging their respective concerns and efforts in finding solutions to the problem.

According to a staff report, the municipality has received 43 complaints regarding court usage and four complaints regarding loud music being played by residents since September 2020.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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